2018-08-02 / Front Page

Lightning strike

Little League must raise funds to repair ‘act of God’ that damaged clubhouse
By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Tracy Lauzon, president of the Old Orchard Beach Little League Board, was driving home from a vacation in North Conway on Saturday, July 28 when the security company charged with keeping an eye on the little league field called to tell him that the building, which houses the equipment room, board room and snack shack, had been breached at two points of entry.

“I assumed it was a power outage, which can trip up the system, and told them not to send any police,” Lauzon said.

A few minutes later, his phone rang again. This time it was the fire department, calling to inform him that the building had been stuck by lightning.

“I couldn’t believe it. What are the chances?” Lauzon asked.

Lauzon rushed to the field to see the damages, which were mostly contained to the outside of the building, located at 40 East Emerson Cummings Blvd. The lightning strike fried the outside meter, which feeds the lights and scoreboard for the ballpark, leaving a scorch mark on the building about 2 yards wide. The strike burned the circuit boxes on the outside as the lightning traveled through the wires. The points of forced entry reported by the security office were from the firefighters attempting to gain entry into the building to check for fire, damaging four doors in the process.


Tracy Lauzon, president of the Old Orchard Beach Little League, needs help to fix the group’s ballpark after a lightning strike on July 28 fried the electrical meter of the clubhouse, because the strike isn’t covered by insurance. The impact of the stike on the meter, bottom left, was so powerful it scorched the wall and melted the glass. (Abigail Worthing photos) Tracy Lauzon, president of the Old Orchard Beach Little League, needs help to fix the group’s ballpark after a lightning strike on July 28 fried the electrical meter of the clubhouse, because the strike isn’t covered by insurance. The impact of the stike on the meter, bottom left, was so powerful it scorched the wall and melted the glass. (Abigail Worthing photos) The force and heat of the lightning burned out the inside of the meter, but also melted the glass. The temperature at which glass melts is 2,800 degrees.


Old Orchard Beach Little League President Tracy Lauzon surveys damage to the doors of the group’s clubhouse following an incident on July 28 where the clubhouse was struck by lightning. Four doors were irreparably damaged as firefighters tried to gain entry into the building following the strike. (Abigail Worthing photo) Old Orchard Beach Little League President Tracy Lauzon surveys damage to the doors of the group’s clubhouse following an incident on July 28 where the clubhouse was struck by lightning. Four doors were irreparably damaged as firefighters tried to gain entry into the building following the strike. (Abigail Worthing photo) The area that surrounds the strike impact is directly behind home plate and on game nights is a popular place for fans to set up chairs and blankets to watch the game.

“The night before we had a lot of rain delays and people had to go to their cars with their kids,” said Lauzon, referring to a rule in little league where if lightning is visible, players and spectators must vacate the field and return to their cars until the weather clears. “People were complaining then, but this is the perfect example of why rules like that exist. We’re lucky this happened on Saturday and not Friday.”


This is all that is left of an electricity meter at the Old Orchard Little League clubhouse after it was struck by lightning on Saturday night. The impact of the strike scorched the surrounding wood paneling and melted the glass inside. (Abigail Worthing photo) This is all that is left of an electricity meter at the Old Orchard Little League clubhouse after it was struck by lightning on Saturday night. The impact of the strike scorched the surrounding wood paneling and melted the glass inside. (Abigail Worthing photo) While the inside was not damaged, with the exception of the doors, Lauzon is grateful the building was empty at the time of the strike, as the room that contains the circuit breaker is in the snack shack, which is operated by an all-volunteer team and usually bustling during games. The accident also comes at the end of the ballpark’s busy season – Friday was the last game.

During the season, which started April 28, there is a game on the field every night, with multiple games each day during weekends. The program also offers tee ball for children 4 and older, and little league until age 12. The ballpark, which is part of the District 4 Little League division that spans York County, is lit for night games, which is a rare feature for a little league field, Lauzon said.

“It’s great to see the kids come out during a night game,” Lauzon said. “They don’t often get to play at night, so it’s a cool experience for them.”

Lauzon and the board now begin the process of assessing damage and collecting funds to fix the building and electrical system.

“We’re so lucky the building didn’t catch fire,” Lauzon said, tapping the scorched siding of the building.

The league will have to pay for all repairs out of pocket because, as Lauzon put it, “acts of God are not covered under insurance.”

The electrical damages still need to be assessed, but Lauzon is preparing for the worst, acknowledging that damages could range anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000. He is especially concerned that the lightning could have damaged the overhead lights to the field or the scoreboard, which is only three years old and was a $3,500 donation from Saco and Biddeford Savings Institution.

The league will set up a GoFundMe page as soon as it has a dollar estimate of the damages and are eyeing Aug. 14 as a potential date to hold a barbecue fundraiser with pick up baseball games to raise funds for the repairs. According to Lauzon, members of the District 4 league and other local businesses have already reached out to see how to assist the Old Orchard Beach Little League Ballpark in any capacity they can. In the meantime, those willing to donate can do so by sending a check made out to the Old Orchard Beach Little League to the organization at P.O. Box 345 in Old Orchard Beach.

“This is a great community program, and I hope the community can come together to help us fix the ballpark,” Lauzon said.

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

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